DeFazio: Tsunami alert system showed 'real problems'

DeFazio: Tsunami alert system showed 'real problems'
CHARLESTON, Ore. - In the wake of Friday's tsunami surge, Rep. Peter DeFazio said a review needs to be done to see what could be done better next time.

He came through town Monday to survey damage in Charleston and talk to local officials about the alert system, which DeFazio said shows "real problems."

The tsunami surge caused damage to finger piers on 'G' dock and ruined pilings on 'D' dock.

Thankfully, no one was hurt and no boats sank.

DeFazio said they'll have to decide whether Coos Bay should be included in Oregon's Disaster Declaration.

"There's some serious damage here to the docks," said DeFazio. "We're talking probably a pretty substantial bill for repair. There are questions about navigability because there's been some large sand movement, and then we've got to see whether or not they have insurance coverage, whether or not we could get Coos Bay included in the Disaster Declaration."

DeFazio said commissioners in Curry County passed a request for a Disaster Declaration on Sunday.

Although the damage in the Coos Bay area isn't as extensive, he says alert systems up and down the coast uncovered real problems.

While some tsunami sirens worked and some didn't, DeFazio said different areas on the coast chose to sound the alert at different times.

And the reverse 911 system in Curry County was totally defeated.

"What were worried about is a quake of a similar magnitude approximate to the Oregon coast, much shorter warning time, people are going to have to respond very quickly," said DeFazio. "Down in Curry County, the reverse 911 system didn't work cause they had so many incoming calls, they couldn't call out."

DeFazio said the state will review mandatory warnings and set them at a standard time so everyone receives a warning in uniform fashion. DeFazio said one of the best ways to receive information is via a weather radio.

"Every house was equipped with a small radio so if there was an escape, it would tell them the wind direction and what to do," he said. "I'm wondering whether that should be part of the future, is looking at having people with these very inexpensive little alert units."

All in all, DeFazio said Friday's natural disaster was "almost a practice drill for everybody" but said it's important for all local residents to be aware of what to do in case of an emergency.

The decision on whether or not to include Coos Bay in Oregon's Disaster Declaration is up to county commissioners.

A spokesperson with the International Port of Coos Bay said they'll meet Tuesday morning to decide.